Photographic Duos is a feature from Loupe, exploring collaboration in photography through a series of interviews with creatives working in pairs. We discuss varying approaches to collaboration, considering issues of co-authorship alongside the benefits of collective creativity.
Interview by Álvaro Martínez García –
A new artistic duo has flourished in the British photographic scene. Photographer Manon Ouimet and filmmaker Jacob Perlmutter have combined their individual styles into one melting pot, providing a contemporary photography and filmmaking service. In our conversation, they explain the perks of joining forces, and their shared ambition as Manon et Jacob. The duo will celebrate its launch at an event on Brick Lane, London later this month.
Álvaro Martínez García: This joint venture grew from both of you having developed a strong career in two different disciplines. What urged you to bring them both together to create this brand?
Manon and Jacob: The duo was born out of love and respect for one another’s photography. Having worked independently for many years, we crossed paths on our creative journeys and despite different backgrounds, we found a huge similarity in both our process and aesthetic. After developing as contemporaries for a year or so, it was a natural step to join forces. Some things in life can’t be forced – they just happen when they feel right. And voila, Manon et Jacob!
AMG: What are your goals in creating this duo?
M+J: Our goals are both artistic and commercial. We’re talking to galleries and would love at some point to put on an exhibition of our works in conversation with one another; a curatorial exploration finding new narratives through juxtaposition and cohesion. This experiment has started in a digital form on our website where we have created two giant scrollable contact sheets.
We are also now creating works together, fusing our sensibilities to find a new language. Creating together is hugely exciting and new to both of us. But due to communicative and collaborative dynamics, we are thriving in this new way, shooting work that neither of us would have individually created.
On a commercial level, we are working with brands with whom our work resonates. There are great collaborative opportunities and we have already worked with musicians and artists to help find their public identities. With fashion brands we’re doing the same, executing fresh and exciting campaigns that are a sympathetic fusion of the brand’s identity and the distinctive style of Manon et Jacob.
AMG: How do you balance the demands of the commercial market with your own artistic voice?
M+J: The benefit of starting this duo with an already considered visual identity based on our previous work, is that we are able to enter the commercial market with an established style. In the current commercial climate, brands are choosing to work with photographers based upon who they are, rather than being a gun-for-hire. People will either like us or they won’t – and that’s the beauty of it – because we get to work with people who like our work and want to be represented by our style.
AMG: With that said, do you see Manon et Jacob as an extension of your own individual practices, or do you conceive it as a separate entity?
M+J: Manon et Jacob is constantly evolving. Thus far it has been about creating a conversation between our works and shooting new material together. The duo is therefore both an extension of our previous iterations and something new – we are allowing ourselves to look back in order to look forwards. And because we are ever-changing, it may be different in a year’s time when our joined body of work outweighs the separate material. The important thing at the moment is to be curious and playful and find delights in each and every new edit, shoot and collaboration. Fun provides incentive for more fun. And that’s a healthy way to create. Beyond that, we both still work independently. We’re solo artists forming a band. And that allows us to rock out for the most part but still write our 3am songs by candlelight when inspiration strikes.
AMG: Can you tell us anything about your upcoming launch exhibition? And what projects have you got planned in the future?
M+J: The night itself is going to be packed with great ingredients: dozens of jumbo-sized prints of our work accompanied by live music from Yuck’s, Max Bloom and a set from Lou Stone plus a tropical DJ set from Ru Robinson. We’ll be getting up on stage to give a brief word on who we are and what we do, plus there will be some exciting giveaways. But all in all the night is about throwing a great party, assembling a buzzing group of brilliant, like minded folk and having fun. Come down to Juju’s Bar & Stage in Brick Lane on 25 October 7-10pm to find out more. Just be sure to RSVP with your numbers and we’ll pop you on the list: manonetjacob(at)gmail.com
On our horizon is a project that is all about Tropicália, a Brazilian artistic movement from the late 60s. We love the music of Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil and so we’re entering that world, exploring parallels with the political landscape of today. We’ve also just had a newspaper-zine designed containing a compilation of our work. It was fantastic collaborating with an incredible graphic designer to help develop our commercial identity and so we’re also looking forward to more exploration of Manon et Jacob through print – it always gives it a wonderful new dimension.
We’re also in conversations with galleries about putting on an exhibition. We’d like to incorporate soundscapes, exploring the textures and narratives of our images further through an added sensory form. We like the collective experience and space of galleries, so are thinking along the lines of how the visuals and sound will work together with any number of people. We did some research at galleries in Japan that inspired us greatly…ideas are being formed…